May 19, 2015
Editorís Note: On May 15th, we posted a Town of Pinedale Update by Mayor Bob Jones on the topic of microbreweries in Pinedale. The discussion is happening because a local microbrewery wishes to expand its operations in town. Below is a rebuttal response sent in by the owner of the microbrewery making the expansion request.
Sean Watts, Owner, Wind River Brewing Co.
I would like to clear up a few items that Mayor Bob Jones has been saying about Wind River Brewing Company and the pending expansion of our brewery operation.
1. He claims we want to expand our brewery into a "FACTORY". This is totally incorrect. We simply want to expand our brewing operations into a larger facility in order to accommodate the demand for our product.
2. He claims we requested the town allow microbreweries as a permitted use in C-1 and that this means we DO NOT NEED PERMISSION. We have requested microbreweries be added to C-1 as a permitted use. However, we still have to ask permission in the way of a building permit. This permit process is very well defined in the town ordinances. So, what this means is the town has already set requirements for parking, set-backs, building height, etc. If we donít meet those requirements, the town will not issue a building permit.
3. He rightfully points out that an ordinance drafted by the Town Attorney to include microbreweries as a permitted use in C-1 was presented to Planning and Zoning. Planning and Zoning voted unanimously to make a recommendation to the town council to include microbreweries as a permitted use in C-1. What the mayor fails to disclose is that he refused to have that P&Z recommendation included on the agenda of the town council meeting. So, the council never heard the recommendation or had the opportunity to vote on it.
4. He claims that he cannot support this project in C-1 unless it is permitted under a special use permit otherwise known as conditional use. This basically means that the mayor and town council have 100% total control over which property we purchase and what we can put on that property. Under this scenario, there are no clear cut rules. The mayor can make up the rules as we go and potentially bankrupt a growing business by imposing whatever restrictions he sees fit. This is an unacceptable way to promote growth in our town. The rules are already in place why are we suddenly trying to change them?
5. He says we want to build a "FACTORY"(please see above) that will be able to produce 50,000 BBLS a year, employ 30 employees and have a 90 seat tasting room. He also references this volume of 1,550,000 gallons of beer or 200 tanker trucks. In my mind, creating 30 plus sustainable jobs in Pinedale is a great thing. The tasting room is primarily for people who want to take tours of our brewery(creating tourism, also a good thing). The negative connotation of 200 tanker trucks has no relevance in this equation. I donít know of a single brewery in the entire world who uses tanker trucks to transport their product. This is simply thrown out there as a negative idea to promote his Light Industrial argument.
6. He claims allowing microbreweries in C-1 means that if you have a house next to or in C-1, we would have the right to put a "FACTORY"(please see above) right next to your house and you would have no recourse. As I understand the process, Planning and Zoning meetings have to publish their agenda the same as any other government entity. So, if this is an issue for anyone, they have the right to come to the P&Z meeting and voice any concerns they may have.
7. He feels conditional use is very fair and appropriate. Conditional use opens us up to any and every rule that he decides to hold us to, not to mention the amount of money this could potentially cost us.
8. In the mind of the mayor this is a "factory" and should be located in industrial zoned land that is located for this type of project. Currently in the town of Pinedale, there are eight light industrial zoned properties. Every single light industrial property in the town borders residential property so, his primary argument for keeping us out of C-1 doesnít really hold water.
9. He claims we have accused him of not wanting business in town because he wonít roll over and give us what we want. This is absolutely false. I have never made that accusation, however I am beginning to warm up to that way of thinking.
10. He says he will not be bullied into doing something he knows is wrong. We have never bullied anyone in this process, we are only trying to do what we think is right and let the democratic process play out as it may. The only bullying going on in this situation is from the side of the mayor.
I encourage all citizens and business owners to start attending all Pinedale Town Council meetings so you can see for yourselves how our town is being run and participate in the democracy we all love.